Bubble Banter opens with 41 teams on the bubble

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Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble. If a team isn’t listed, they aren’t a bubble team at the time of the update. 

An amazing 41 teams begin the countdown as bubble teams.  Even more could have listed, and teams will come and go over the next few weeks.  To be eligible for consideration, a team had to be within the Top 100 of the RPI, and be close enough to the cutline to warrant serious consideration.  A team like South Carolina, for example, has two quality wins, but fell to No. 105 in the RPI after the loss to Auburn.  Thus, we did not include USC in this update as no team with an RPI rating that high has ever been selected as an at-large candidate.

Note:  RPI and SOS data is credited to CollegeRPI.com.  Follow along at Bracketville.

UPDATED: February 1

Automatic Bids (31): None decided | Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (11): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament witihout a major collapse. Some of these projected locks may become automatic qualifiers should they win their conference tournament.
  • Should Be In (17): While not yet locks, these are teams in good position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (41): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots available (15): Number of available openings for the bracket based on spots reserved for automatic qualifiers, projected locks, and teams projected as Should Be In at this update.

Below is a conference breakdown of the bubble picture.

Atlantic 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Temple, Xavier | Bubble: Duquesne, Rhode Island, Richmond
  • Duquesne (14-5) | RPI: 76 | SOS: 144 | – Despite a poor RPI, Duquesne opens Bubble Banter tied with Xavier atop the A-10 – including a win over Temple. Nothing to report in the non-conference season, and the Dukes’ overall SOS is a concern. Still, we can’t ignore a team that’s 7-0 in the No. 8-rated conference.
  • Rhode Island (13-8) | RPI: 82 | SOS: 95 | – Like a lot of teams, the Rams have been a mixed bag. Good wins include Boston College, at Richmond, and vs. Charleston. There’s also the losses to Quinnipiac and UIC, and a blowout loss at Xaver. URI must vault to the top of the A-10 standings.
  • Richmond (16-6) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 90 | – Spiders are hoping the non-conference win over Purdue holds a lot of weight. Richmond also won at Seton Hall and beat VCU. The lopsided home loss to Xavier is troubling and puts the Spiders two games back of the Muskateers.
ACC
Locks: Duke | Should Be In: North Carolina | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Virginia Tech
  • Boston College (14-7) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 26 | – The Eagles are an RPI oddity: Numbers are good, but the overall resume suggests work ahead. BC’s win over Texas Am early is notable, as was a good road win at Maryland to open ACC play. At the same time, BC has lost (at home) to two Ivy League schools and has dropped 3 of its past 4 games.
  • Clemson (15-6) | RPI: 69 | SOS: 100 | The Tigers make the bubble with a 4-3 ACC mark, but other than home wins over Florida State and Miami, the resume is light. Clemson has non-league losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina. It’ll take a strong month for the Tigers to be a serious at-large contender.
  • Florida State (15-6) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 75 | – Seminoles were only be a week away from moving into Should Be In status before another lopsided road loss – this time to Clemson. Baylor is their best non-ACC win, and the Bears have struggled. While the loss at Auburn was probably a fluke, it’s an example of inconsistent play. FSU also lost to a struggling Butler team in Hawaii. The win over Duke is big, but not enough by itself.
  • Maryland (14-7) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 63 | – Can the Terps make another February run? That’s the question. Other than an early win at Penn Sate, Maryland is void of anything out-of-conference, and the ACC is down. The closing schedule is favorable, but it will take a good finish for the Terps to contend. Game with Duke (at home) is huge.
  • Virginia Tech (14-6) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 80 | – Yet again the Hokies find themselves on the bubble, and an underwhelming non-conference profile is the biggest reason. Credit VT with playing a much better schedule, the Hokies just failed to win many of the games – the best is over fellow bubble-dweller Oklahoma State. It also hurts that VT sees Duke, North Carolina, and FSU only once in league play. Must stay with the contenders.
BIG EAST
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Villanova | Should Be In: Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville,West Virginia | Bubble: Cincinnati, Marquette, St. John’s
  • Cincinnati (18-4) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 128 | – As we’ve mentioned before, the Bearcats’ dreadful non-conference SOS (No. 289) leaves UC with little margin for error in the Big East. Last week’s road win at St. John’s was huge because Cincy has won most of its games at home. The closing stretch will be a challenge and it’s important for UC to stay above the fray.
  • Marquette (14-8) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 32 | – Marquette may be better than its record, but the Golden Eagles best wins have been at home, and a tough three-game road stretch is just on the horizon. Wins over Notre Dame and West Virginia help, and the Eagles’ worst loss is an early-neutral court game vs. Gonzaga. The rest have been to Top 50 RPI teams.
  • St. John’s (12-8) | RPI: 23 | SOS: 3 | – The Red Storm has some very good wins – none better than Sunday’s dominating win over Duke. There’s also a roadie at West Virgina. SJU owns the nation’s No. 3 rated overall SOS. That will help. The question is … can St. John’s win enough games down the stretch? A cross-country road trip to UCLA won’t be easy.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State | Should Be In: Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State Penn State
  • Illinois (14-7) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 24 | The Illini have lost 4 of 5 games which included dropping a second-half lead vs. Ohio State and an ugly effort at Indiana. The upcoming schedule is favorable for a rebound, but UI is at a critical juncture. Good wins include N. Carolina and Wisconsin, along with Michigan State. The loss at UIC is a sore point.
  • Michigan State (12-8) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 5 | It’s worth noting that the Spartans have played the nation’s No. 5 schedule and No. 18 non-conference schedule. MSU has also avoided any bad RPI losses – even though the home loss to Michigan was a bit shocking. With Korie Lucious dismissed for the season, the Spartans need to re-prove they are an NCAA team without him. Much like Illinois, MSU needs to start winning again.
  • Penn State (12-8) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 6 | – The Nittany Lions have been a tough out in the Big 10 and have rebounded nicely from a lackluster non-conference effort that included a home loss to Maine. Good wins include Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin – at home. While close, PSU has yet to win a meaningful road game. That may have to change. The closing stretch is tough, but offers PSU some opportunities.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas | Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM | Bubble: Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado, Oklahoma State
  • Baylor (14-6) | RPI: 81 | SOS: 82 | – What the Bears have done is be very average. Nothing stands out to separate Baylor from any number of other teams. Best wins are Oklahoma State and Colorado at home. Neither are certain NCAA teams. Out of conference, the Bears failed to win a Top 100 RPI game and their non-league SOS ranks No. 236. No one questions the Bears’ talent, it’s whether they can win enought Big 12 games at this point.
  • Colorado (13-8) | RPI: 94 | SOS: 114 | – In back-to-back games, the Buffaloes beat Missouri at home and K-State on the road. Since, Colorado has lost four of five and four straight – including games at Nebraska and Oklahoma. A non-league win over Colorado State is notable, but overall the Buffs non-conference SOS ranks No. 307. That spells trouble. Colorado has remaining chances to win big games, they’ll need as many as they can get.
  • Kansas State (13-8) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 15 | – The Wildcats opened the season No. 3 in national polls. Ever since, there have been more questions than answers. First, K-State needs to improve its 2-5 mark in the Big 12. Next, they need to beat a Top 50 RPI opponent – KSU is currently 0-6 vs. such teams. Other than that, the power numbers are workable. More than anything, K-State needs to start winning games, they’ve dropped 5 of 7.
  • Oklahoma State (14-7) | RPI: 58 | SOS: 64 | – Cowboys, like K-State are 2-5 now in league play, so compiling wins is most important. Winning a meaningful game away from home would help too as OSU is 2-5 in true road games. Best wins are Kansas State and Missouri State at home. Best non-league win is probably Alabama. Against the Top 100, OSU is 2-6. The recent loss at Texas Tech speaks to the Cowboys’ trouble on the road. Oklahoma State also has head-to-head losses against several other bubble teams (Gonzaga, Colorado, Baylor).
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: BYU, San Diego State | Should Be In: UNLV | Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico
  • Colorado State (14-6) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 58 | – At 5-2 in the Mountain West, Colorado State is certainly in the at-large discussion. Solid win at UNLV is a high point, but there are also losses to Hampton and Sam Houston. Inconsistency is a recurring theme. Overall, good wins are still lacking as CSU is 1-2 vs. Top 50 teams. Non-conference wins include So. Mississippi and Ole Miss, but neither of those are NCAA wins at this point. CSU will need to beat San Diego State and or BYU to be a realistic contender.
  • New Mexico (14-7) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 77 | – While the season hasn’t gone as planned, beating BYU at The Pit keeps the Lobos’ NCAA hopes alive. They’ve also beaten Colorado State and Colorado at home. Troubling road losses are to Utah and Wyoming. UNM’s non-conference profile is light, so it’s going to take a strong finish in the Mountain West, but the overall bubble picture is very weak at this point, so who knows. Three of the next four are away from home.
PAC 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Washington | Bubble: Arizona, California, Washington State, UCLA
  • Arizona (18-4) | RPI: 21 | SOS: 44 | – The Wildcats have posted a stellar record but are just 1-3 vs. Top 50 teams (beating UCLA at home). There’s nothing from the non-conference resume helping as the best win is Oklahoma. UA also has an ugly loss at Oregon State. Right now, Arizona would make the field, but it’s too early to move them off the bubble. They need to continue to stay at the top of the Pac-10 standings. A tricky three-game road stretch is next.
  • California (12-9) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 14 | – A strong SOS is keeping Cal in the mix as is a 5-4 league mark. That said, the Bears’ lone Top 50 win is at home vs. Temple, and Cal is 1-7 vs. Top 50 RPI teams. That mark will have to improve. Cal is also 8-9 vs. the Top 200 which usually means a no-go for the NCAAs. Next four games are critical.
  • Washington State (15-6) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 84 | – Beating Washington at home Sunday night kept WSU in the current bracket. It was the Cougars’ first Top 50 win (1-4). Other notable wins are Baylor and Gonzaga, but those are bubble teams at this point, too. A 3-3 road mark is acceptable, but WSU needs to up its 5-4 mark in league play. The Pac-10 isn’t deep and WSU needs to finish in the top three to feel safe.
  • UCLA (14-7) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 31 | – The Bruins have a good home win over BYU in their pocket, but that’s only going to last so long. At 6-3 in the league, UCLA needs to stay near the top of the heap. RPI and SOS numbers are good, but UCLA is just 1-4 vs. Top 50 RPI teams and 3-7 vs. Top 100 teams. Neither suggests they’ve done enough. A home date with St. John’s is a big opportunity to post another solid non-conference win.
SEC
Locks: Kentucky | Should Be In: Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt | Bubble: Georgia
  • Georgia (14-6) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 41| – The Bulldogs are talented enough to make the NCAAs, but can they win enough SEC games? An early victory over Kentucky helps, as does a win over UAB – another bubble team. Still, with a 2-6 mark vs. Top 50 teams, Georgia needs to start winning close games. All of the Bulldogs losses have been to teams ranked in the Top 40 of the RPI, so that’s a plus. The schedule is favorable over the next two weeks. There’s also a home game with Xavier that could help.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: NONE | Bubble: Butler, Cleveland State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Old Dominion, George Mason, VCU, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB, UTEP, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, UAB, Utah State
  • Butler (13-8) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 28 | – The NCAA runner-ups have struggled much of the season with the exception of the Diamond Head Classic where the Bulldogs beat Florida State and Washington State. Within the Horizon, BU has a good win over Cleveland State but has fallen off the pace with 3 sub-100 losses, including being swept by Milwaukee. Butler missed chances with Duke, Xavier, and Louisville. Without a lot of wins down the stretch, it’ll be dicey if the Bulldogs fade in the Horizon tournament.
  • Cleveland State (18-3) | RPI: 29 | SOS: 141 | – CSU best wins are Kent State and Wright State – having lost to both Butler and Valparaiso in the Horizon. With an 0-2 mark vs. Top 50 teams, CSU really needs to beat Butler and Valpo at home down the stretch. An outright Horizon title will help, but may not be enough given the so-so SOS numbers.
  • Missouri State (17-5) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 111 | – Failing to win a meaningful non-conference game and a non-league SOS of No. 225 hurts the Bears’ chances. A clear Missouri Valley title would be a huge benefit. MSU does have a win at Wichita State and probably needs to sweep the Shockers. This is a good team that’s light on quality wins.
  • Northern Iowa (16-6) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 108 | – With MVC road wins at Missouri State and Wichita State, we have to include the Panthers. They’ve also beaten fellow bubbler New Mexico. UNI has four sub-100 losses, however, and needs to at least tie for the MVC title to have a realistic chance. The BracketBuster with George Mason is a must-get.
  • Wichita State (17-4) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 109 | – The Shockers let a second-half lead slip away against UConn in Maui and WSU has yet to win a Top 50 RPI game (0-3). In fact, WSU is 0-4 vs. Top 100 teams. A 5-1 record in true road games and being tied atop the MVC standings is keeping WSU on the cutline. That, and no bad losses – something we can’t say about a lot of teams. The BracketBuster matchup with VCU looms large.
  • Memphis (16-5) | RPI: 35 | SOS: 47 | – Somebody has to win Conference USA, and the Tigers are playing better. Winning at UAB helps, although an early tally over Miami-FL is fading some. There’s a bad loss at SMU and a 1-3 mark vs. Top 50 teams. The plus is 5 Top 100 wins, however. It doesn’t help that Memphis was largely non-competitive in losses to Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgetown. Upcoming trip to Gonzaga could be telling.
  • UAB (15-5) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 74 | – The Blazers are a solid team that lacks a marquee win. They are 0-3 vs. Top 50 teams (Duke, Memphis, Georgia). UAB’s best win is probably VCU at home. There’s also losses at Tulsa and Arizona State. Rematch at Memphis is huge as the Blazers can stay at the top of the C-USA standings.
  • Southern Mississippi (14-5) | RPI: 67 | SOS: 140 | – With just two Top 100 wins, So. Miss has to keep plugging along. They can’t afford many more conference losses. A non-conference SOS ranked No. 256 won’t help.
  • UTEP (16-5) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 131 | – Of UTEP’s 16 D-I wins, 14 are to teams ranked outside the Top 100 of the RPI. The best is an early win over Michigan. Add in three sub-100 losses and the Miners are here as a fringe candidate with a 5-2 C-USA mark. Probably have to win the C-USA title for serious consideration.
  • Old Dominion (17-5) | RPI: 31 | SOS: 51 | – Monarchs have a pretty good profile if they can stay at the top of the Colonial standings. Solid non-conference wins include Xavier, Richmond and Clemson. ODU also played Georgetown to within three points. A 7-4 mark vs. Top 100 teams helps. The BracketBuster with Cleveland State could be helpful.
  • VCU (18-5) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 153 | – The Rams currently lead the CAA and may need to stay there to make the Dance. Talented, VCU has a good neutral court win over UCLA. There’s a good loss to Tennessee, but also a miscue at Georgia State. Rematches with ODU and Geo Mason at home are huge, as is a BracketBuster with Wichita State.
  • George Mason (17-5) | RPI: 34 | SOS: 79 | – George Mason lacks a Top 50 RPI win but has won 7 straight and stands alone in second place in the CAA. It’ll take some work, but an outright CAA title could be enough to give the Patriots a fighting chance. A BracketBuster win at Northern Iowa would help, too.
  • Gonzaga (13-8) | RPI: 87 | SOS: 52 | – The Zags have fallen all the way to the bubble thanks to eight losses and a 1-5 mark vs. Top 50 RPI teams. There are some good wins – Baylor, Xavier, Marquette – that could get better. A good SOS always helps. A big issue is being two games back of St. Mary’s in the WCC. Big week for the Zags with a trip to Portland and a home date with Memphis. The losses at Santa Clara and San Francisco are hurting right now.
  • St. Mary’s (16-4) | RPI: 33 | SOS: 104 | – Winning an outright WCC title could be enough as long as St. Mary’s doesn’t lose many more games – especially to teams other than Gonzaga or maybe Portland. An early win over St. John’s helps, but the Gaels were blown out at Vanderbilt and have only the one Top 50 win. At 2-4 vs. Top 100 teams, St. Mary’s is a long way from being a lock.
  • Utah State (20-2) | RPI: 30 | SOS: 164 | – The Aggies have a lot of wins but none to teams ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI. That’s a major hurdle to overcome. USU missed against BYU and Georgetown and has only one Top 100 team left on its schedule – the BracketBuster at St. Mary’s. Lose that and USU may still have to win its conference tournament.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.